Monday, January 5, 2009

Words on Writing - Who Do You Write For?

Who Do You Write For? By L. V. Gaudet © January 2009 This is yet another one of those age old questions about writing. When you write, who do you ultimately write for? Do you write with your reader in mind? Do your thoughts linger on what that publisher or agent might like? Do you write for a loved one, a deep need to release some pent up thoughts and feelings, or simply for yourself? I write for myself. There is no mystique about it, no secret driven need to share archaic feelings, some terrible event from the past, or whimsical fluff, you know the stuff some stories are made of. No, it’s much simpler than that. I write for the joy of writing, the pleasure of that story materializing, coming alive as if on its own, at the tips of my fingers. My stories grow and develop as they see fit, working their plots in ways I mostly could not have foreseen. The story itself has a drive of its own, a need to be released, to come alive like a Frankenstein creature. I think this is important. Without that creative force writhing its way free with a power of its own, writing would be predictable and mundane. Boring. It is only later, in the endless editing, that I read the story and contemplate the needs of the reader. What does a reader need in order to enjoy the story? It should be easy enough to read for the reader to be unwittingly drawn into the story, to become a witness rather than just a reader. The reader needs to feel the story, feel what the characters feel, and feel as though he or she is a character within the story witnessing the events around. The reader needs to feel compelled to continue reading the story. It should flow easily and as if by some grand design. Surprises need to be surprising, but also plausible and need to fit neatly enmeshed within the story. It is also only within the endless editing that I consider what a prospective agent or publisher might want. To consider this question too soon would only take away from the voice of the story, sucking away its life like a thousand tiny bloodsuckers. Always, I keep in mind that each agent or publisher represents but a single mind, or perhaps a handful. Each has their own personal tastes and preferences. Just because one might not like a story, does not mean the story is lacking or bad. It just means you need to find one whose tastes run more in keeping with the voice of the story. Of course, not all writers are good writers or talented. And not every story written even by a talented writer is worthy of being published to the masses. Writing is a labor of love. Treating it as anything else would be like living a lie, lessening the voice and value of the work. To write for any reason other than the pure enjoyment of it would be to slog away at yet another task we do simply because we must. That, surely, would come out in the weakened voice of the writing. Writing without the love of writing is as dry and lifeless as the hard plastic keys your fingers poke unenthusiastically at.

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